In a highly unusual move, developers of the 44-story 21c hotel and condo development have abandoned the planned third and Brazos project in favor of a new multi-building complex to be located a few blocks East on Waller Creek. The new project, also to be named 21c, will first include a 16-story hotel with 243 rooms which will be followed by a 49-story condo tower. The hotel will break ground in 2009 and the condo tower is expected to break ground by 2010. The hotel will also double as a contemporary art museum.
The original 21c project was late to the game, announced just 2 months before the summer meltdown of U.S. credit markets. Although 21c had been actively marketing condo units through a sales office on 6th and Congress, the developers will essentially start from scratch with their condo marketing efforts for the newly planned 295 unit condo tower. At this point, prices have not even been announced.
While the Austin hotel market remains strong, 21c’s unlucky timing likely made condo marketing difficult. With the new plans, the developers separate the hotel, residential, and a newly announced commercial tower into three separate projects. This allows them to begin quickly with the economically viable and modestly-scaled hotel project while testing the waters on the other two fronts. When (and if) sales and leasing goals have been met, 21c will be able to embark on the other two towers. One clear sign of the developers preference for hotel rooms over condo and commercial projects is the simultaneous announcement that the existing 21c site on Third and Brazos will also be developed into a new hotel. If all projects are completed on the new site, the project will cost $350 million, a significant jump from the originally planned $200 million hotel-condo tower.
With the move, the new 21c buildings will anchor a high-potential development district on the East end of downtown just north of Lady Bird Lake. The project will be located on a large 3.5 acre site surrounded by park and close to the much-loved downtown hike and bike trails. In the new location, the project will anchor a potential Austin “riverwalk” along Waller creek. 21c is the first major project to take advantage of a city-sponsored $125 million tunnel designed to remove the creek from the floodplain.
Here are some additional details on the new project:
-The new site will be home to the project’s 243-room hotel, 295 residential units, retail, spa, pools, museum, restaurants and other amenities.
– The project, including an underground parking garage, currently totals over 1 million square feet. The development team plans to develop another 425,000 square feet on the site as either a future office/retail or residential/retail tower. The entire project represents a $350 million investment.
– The new location allows the project to be enhanced with park space, a sculpture garden, signature spa, retail, indoor/outdoor meeting space and additional parking.
– The project will include an innovative and accessible restaurant that will emphasize local and sustainable agriculture and feature contemporary American cuisine. Michael Bonadies, CEO of ACE, was previously a founding partner of the New York-based Myriad Restaurant Group, which owns and operates such well-known restaurants as Tribeca Grill, Nobu and Rubicon.
– According to the developers, some of 21c’s most innovative aspects will be its artist lofts and new contemporary art museum, open free to the public 365 days per year. Twelve artist lofts will be made available at favorable rental rates for living and studio space. The museum will provide a new venue for contemporary visual and performing arts.
– The team of architects for the project includes Deborah Berke & Partners, a well-respected New York firm, Goody Clancy Architecture of Boston, and Susman Tisdale Gayle, and Austin firm that is often selected to participate in major downtown projects.
We’ll update the 21c profile as soon as full details become available.